How to Chose a Protein Powder
I am often asked what is a good protein powder. Not surprising, as I often ask my clients to increase their protein intake each day. We all know that eggs, fish and meat are great sources of protein but sometimes we need a few extra options or variety to meet our daily intake target.
Having 1 gm of protein per kilogram of body weight daily for most people will support healthy muscle mass, ideal weight, energy throughout the day and enzyme and neurotransmitter synthesis.
There are a few ways to look at protein powder to help you chose the best one for you. They can be expensive so it is a good idea to be choosy.
Protein powders are usually either:
1) Whey or vegetable based - Whey proteins are usually tastier, more satisfying and do have healing action of the gut. However, not all people can tolerate whey, being a dairy product. Others who are looking to decrease inflammation in their body should also avoid dairy products.
If not whey, then what? Many protein powders are based on brown rice or pea protein. Others may include lupin, chickpea, sacha inchi or hemp protein or combination thereof. All good protein sources, the decision then becomes one of what tastes best and what you can best tolerate.
2) Straight or complex - there are protein powders that contain nothing but the protein (isolated from the rest of the food, say dairy or pea). Others have the protein isolate and added boosters such as superfoods, herbs, enzymes, probiotics, prebiotics, etc.
Taste and intolerances are still a consideration but now you need to decide what do you want your protein powder to do. Simply a protein source or a useful addition to your general health goals. This decision also needs to take into account what other supplements and superfoods you are having daily to ensure you don't overwhelm the body.
3) Meal replacement or snack/workout support - now let's consider how do you plan to use the protein powder. The key questions here are will you have it plain in a fluid of your choice? Or will you build on it by adding berries, fluid, nuts, vegetable to the protein powder?
If you are going to build it, then the taste is less of an issue as it can be hidden or enhanced depending on what you add to it. If you having it plain with say coconut water to replace electrolytes and protein lost during a workout, then taste becomes more of a consideration.
Fortunately, many companies will sell single-serve sizes to allow you test before you commit to a larger quantity.
I have not tried all brands available but I have tried quite a few healthy clean brands. My two recommendations are:
A) Amazon Raw Protein range - they have both whey and vegetable-based to chose from. They also have simple isolates or boosted protein powder blends. I personally find Amazonia is a quality protein source that leaves me satisfied for longer. The taste is pretty mild. So it is one that I suggest for the meal replacement option. My client and I agree this range can be a bit gritty and it is one of the more expensive brands.
B) Clean Lean Protein - this is a simple and clean yet quality protein. It has pea protein, flavour (chocolate, strawberry, coffee and vanilla) and a natural sweetener (thaumatin, a sweet protein derived from the katemfe fruit.) A good option for the post workout or afternoon snack. Simply add to a nut milk and you have nice tasting option. Some have said it is too sweet so keep that in mind.
Another two to consider are Prana (nice flavours but very sweet) and NutraOrganics (similar option to the Clean Lean Protein range but with added boosters.)
All four are clean brands - no added chemical, preservatives or additives. Which is why I am comfortable recommending them.
Another option is to go for whole protein sources such as hemp seeds, sacha inchi, and inca inchi to name a few.
I have heard many times that people are hesitant to buy a protein powder as they already have a full tub sitting in their pantry. They found it disgusting and now can't eat it. Hopefully, the tips above will help you pick a protein powder that meets your needs, tastes nice and allows you meet your protein intake requirements each and every day.